Gears of War 5 (Xbox) Review

The Gears of War series is a staple franchise within the Xbox wheelhouse

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Synopsis (Taken from Microsoft’s website):

The world is crumbling. The Swarm has corrupted the Coalition’s robot army and is descending upon human cities. With danger closing in, Kait Diaz breaks away to uncover her connection to the enemy and discovers the true danger to Sera – herself.


REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**Ratings are judged against the state of the art in contemporary games. As technology rapidly improves, standards will raise appropriately.**

Audio: 97

  • Dynamics: 98
  • Low Frequency Extension: 98
  • Positional/Environmental Cues: 95
  • Detail/Realism: 96

Please note, this review is by AVS Forum “ghost reviewer” @datsm. While he wishes to remain anonymous, credit is given where it’s due—it’s his review. @datsm put the time into playing Gears of War 5; it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

My Take:

This is one of the best sounding Dolby Atmos games I have played. I will keep my description as spoiler free as possible, but please note I will be talking about different environments in the game. The real game starts off with you ziplining down a waterfall. The sound was completely immersive – you could hear the waterfall, the dialogue of the character (including the echoing of the dialogue), and the sound of the zipline itself. Each environment throughout the game sound righted and was well balanced.

I bring up balance because the game has a lot of guns, explosions and monsters – yet everything felt right. There were moments of this game were you are trying to sneak by enemies and every minor sound echoes in perfect eeriness. Then there are times when you are facing large monsters with building collapsing around you. One sound never overwhelmed the other. Each gun had it’s own sound-feel and the audio queues for reloading had a “just right” subtlety to them.

Dolby Atmos had some great breathing room to shine in this game. When buildings are falling around you, it was easy to distinguish the direction things were falling from. Not only can you track items, but enemy gunfire as well. You could tell where the enemy was hiding and where snipers were located through the audio cues.

The last part I will mention is the score. It was layered behind all the chaos, adding to the tension of every scene. My only issue with the game was in the cut scenes. Many of them sounded compressed and when you went back into gameplay, the soundstage and dynamics opened up dramatically. It was very noticeable on my system.

Video: 90

  • Resolution/Clarity:88
  • Black Levels:83
  • Color Reproduction:95
  • Compression:92

My Take:

The graphics in this game a jaw dropping. Running through buildings, the snow, and the desert all had moments where I stood still and moved the camera around to see mountains in the background. The guns and armor had a great amount of detail as well. Any change I made to the weapon showed in screen. When I used the sniper rifle, I could see details in the enemy that usually get blurry. In the bright snow, you could still see shadows under the trees and reflections of ice in the distance.

What I found most interesting was the cut scenes looked compressed and were compromised in terms of quality, especially in terms of black levels. The detail felt lost on character’s face and in the environment. I found myself waiting for the cut scene to be over so I can look at how pretty the game actually is during normal gameplay.

Final Thoughts:

Gears of War 5 is now my reference game. It features sound and image quality that I have rarely seen on a console. With this game coming out at the end of the Xbox One lifecycle, I can’t wait to see what next-gen games will look like. It is also worth mentioning that Gears of War 5 is included with Xbox Game Pass, which remains the best service in the video game industry.

Reference Review System:

  • KEF R700, R600, R800ds, R50, R400b
  • Marantz 7704
  • Emotiva XPA 2
  • Hegel C55
  • Playstation 4 Pro
  • Samsung Q8 (2018)